It would be a giant leap to say that the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people on Sunday was caused by the U.S. government shutdown, but there is reason to believe the aircraft’s safety may have been compromised by the impasse Donald Trump forced over funding for his vanity wall.
The crash apparently bore similarities to that of Lion Air flight 610, which went down near Indonesia last year. And a new software fix to address what happened during that flight was significantly delayed in part because of the shutdown.
After the Lion Air crash, the FAA—which, with EU airline regulators, generally sets the tone for aviation safety worldwide—issued a new “airworthiness directive” to US operators of the Boeing 737 8 and 9 planes, warning that an “unsafe condition” exists on the models and providing flight crews “with runaway horizontal stabilizer trim procedures to follow under certain conditions.”
Straightforward safety upgrades to the jets’ software to fix the automated safety feature, were originally expected in January according to multiple reports. But they were delayed until April, the Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 10, because of “engineering challenges,” “differences of opinion” between federal and Boeing officials, and the 35-day government shutdown, during which “consideration of the fixes was suspended.”
During the shutdown, aviation workers warned of an “unprecedented” risk posed by the erosion of vital government services. Of course, we can’t say at this point whether these deaths are directly attributable to Donald Trump’s ego-driven tantrum — and, in fact, we may never know for sure — but it’s not a good look, is it?
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